We’ve had a really enjoyable past couple of days here in Baoding. Having the opportunity to show the sites around to Caitlin and Haley has reminded us a lot of our first couple of months here when every day was an adventure and we weren’t in a routine yet. A lot of our exploring disappeared as we got more and more settled into the routine and as the weather got colder and smoggier, but with the girls here we’ve regained some of that adventuresome spirit.
Over the past few days we’ve tried new bread in the He Da alley (where I thoroughly embarrassed myself linguistically), we ate at an anime themed pizza restaurant with the other foreign teachers in Baoding, we got a kick out of all of the tacky clothes for sale along the road, and I finally worked up the courage (with the group) to play darts at one of the street vendor’s stands (where I won two prizes for consistency).
Thursday afternoon we were all given another tour of the school’s art classes (which I got to join this time) and we had a wonderful time visiting with our students and seeing all their creations. My students, in particular, were super excited to see me since I hadn’t joined the previous art tour. And today, even though it’s Saturday, we have classes (to make up for the classes we’ll miss over May Day holiday) and my fifth graders seem even more excited than usual to see me and let me know that they saw me in their art class.
Today, Haley has been teaching my fifth grade classes and I’ve been observing. It’s been really fun watching my students from the back of the classroom. Along with the entertainment that comes from them spending the entire class turning around to seek my approval and watching my reactions to what’s happening in the class, it’s been really rewarding to see how much they’ve learned. I’m very proud of the relationships I’ve developed with many of these students because I can see their desire to learn and communicate in English and most of them seem a lot more confident interacting with me and the other foreign teachers than they did at the beginning of the school year. Even if they don’t remember any of the English I taught them, hopefully they’ll remember that foreigners (including teachers) can be fun, friendly, and enjoyable to communicate with. I truly have loved this part of my job here and hope to foster more relationships with students wherever I go next.
With five weeks of classes left, we’re beginning to mentally prepare for our return home and along with that comes realizing some of what we’re going to miss. I’m definitely going to miss all the traveling we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do this year but at a local level I’m going to miss how easy it is to get places. Here we can walk to pretty much every place we go to regularly even though we live on the outskirts of town. And if we want to go somewhere a little farther away, Kuai Long (easily the best purchase we’ve made all year) has made that an easy and (mostly) fun mini-adventure. I’ve enjoyed being outside so much this year (despite the smog) since we haven’t had a car and almost all local traveling takes place “in the elements”. And I’ll miss the life and energy of parks and communal spaces. Outdoor spaces just don’t seem as lively or friendly in the States. I’m certainly going to miss all of the street vendors that, even with the burgeoning presence of food trucks in the States, just can’t possibly be replaced. And maybe most of all, I’m going to miss a lot of my students. But for the next five weeks, I’m going to continue to make the most out of this adventure and try to absorb as much of my remaining China life as I possibly can.
Thank you for reading and until next time,